When doing an app review it is always difficult to give a general recommendation, as apps are usually developed and work great for a particular kind of client. With Wave Accounting this dilemma does not exist as the online accounting app is placed firmly in the “has a couple good ideas, not ready for daily operations” category.
Wave Accounting positions itself as a collection of accounting apps for small business. Some functionality is available on the mobile device with additional features accessible through the online portal. The mobile app can send invoices from your iPhone, along with adding new client records and products or services. The app also provides provides simple cash flow analytics and a notifications centre.
Overall, the app sports a clean and fluid look but needs a bit of testing as it did not allow me to add sales tax or choose a sales account straight after downloading it on an iPhone 5C. The app proceeded to crash when I first tried to add a product but worked without problems afterwards.
The web portal gives access to more apps and functionality and positions itself as an accounting platform with invoicing, bill tracking, Yodlee bank feeds, payroll management (US and Canada only), some reporting and a paid-for services section.
Some functions are done well. For example, CSV imports include very accessible step by step instructions, and receipts processing is a step above the digital storage seen in other accounting platforms.
However, a couple of features require a redesign and additional thought. To name a few:
1. No Credit Notes
While I could raise an invoice with a negative amount as a total, I wasn’t able to offset it against another invoice without using a clearing account. Credit notes are an essential feature in invoicing but are apparently missing from Wave.
2. No Custom Invoices
Invoices are not freely customisable, you need to adhere to one of the three templates provided. While not all businesses need invoices with a custom layout, the feature is common across online accounting platforms.
3. No Audit History
There is no audit history yet you are able to invite additional collaborators to your business account.
4. No bulk invoices or bills
There is no way to bulk upload invoices or bills. This can be problematic if your invoices are generated by another system or if you have a large number of invoices you need to key in.
5. Slow reconciliation
The bank reconciliation is not entirely intuitive. It relies on a tabular format and may take additional time if volume of transactions is significant.
In terms of pricing the basic version of Wave is free. The money is made on advertisements, higher than average credit card processing fees and product recommendations.
A special note to put credit card processing charges in perspective. The 2.9 percent charge that Wave asks for credit card processing compares with 2.7 percent for Stripe and 2.4 percent for PayPal. For a small business in Australia that turns over $300,000 per year a 0.2 percent difference would mean $600 per year and a 0.5 percent difference would add up to $1,500.
Wave’s functionality is sufficient for a freelancer with straightforward affairs, not a small business owner. Other online accounting applications offer functionality and refined user interfaces that are ahead by several years of development.
Alternative platforms are usually not free to use but would provide a scalable solution for your business and additional options when it comes to structuring your business processes.
It remains to be seen if Wave is able to catch up, but it probably has a brighter future concentrating its development efforts for businesses that do not require payroll.
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